We’re running a weekly recap of Loki on Disney+. There are spoilers, duh! You’ve been warned.
If their Nazi helmets hadn’t yet tipped you off before now, the Time Variance Authority are the bad guys.
A long time ago in a multiverse far, far away, a group of TVA Minutemen led by Ravonna Renslayer infiltrated Asgard, kidnapped a young Loki (“Sylvie” as she’s called now), then laid a reset charge that essentially obliterated the timeline from which Sylvie was born. Her home, her family, her toys—all destroyed.
Early in the series, Miss Minutes told us the Time-Keepers created the TVA and everyone in it as a means to protect the Sacred Timeline from yet another Multiverse War. Multiverses lead to chaos, chaos leads to instability, and instability leads to war and death and pain and suffering and big budget battle scenes that are costly for Marvel Studios to produce. We can’t have that, at least not until the next Avengers team-up movie.Perhaps Loki’s moment of self-clarity all the way back in episode one was actually describing the TVA itself: “It’s part of the illusion. It’s the cruel, elaborate trick conjured by the weak to inspire fear.”
So the TVA prunes all the Variants who cause these nexus events and decimates the timelines these Variants create. We keep our Sacred Timeline nice and tidy around here, thankyouverymuch.
What they failed to mention, however, is that the TVA wasn’t “created” by the Time-Keepers so much as it was populated by the very people it was supposedly meant to hunt and imprison. So when Sylvie got plucked from her timeline by the Minutemen, the men and women doing the plucking were themselves people who were once plucked in much the same way. As were the Variants before them, and so on and so forth.
The TVA doesn’t imprison Variants. The TVA is the prison. You know, in a Matrix kind of a way.
Presumably, most of the TVA’s inhabitants know nothing of any of this. They accept reality as the Time-Keepers have portrayed it, which is why Mobius M. Mobius is patronizingly unbothered by questions of his or the TVA’s origins. “I don’t get hung up on ‘believe, not believe,’” he told Loki two episodes ago. “I just accept what is.”
But, others, I suspect, are in on it. Judge Ravonna Renslayer being one of them. She knows she’s a Variant, meant to keep all the other Variants in the dark. She’s a pawn like all the others, but the Time-Keepers were at least insidious enough to let her know she’s a pawn.
That said, we probably need an asterisk whenever we mention the Time-Keepers* from now on. The Great and Powerful Ozzes were revealed as nothing more than automatons—audio-animatronics akin to something you see on Pirates of the Carribean. Spooky from a certain point of view, but with no real agency of their own, controlled and programmed by someone behind the scenes.
Someone yet to be revealed.
Meanwhile, the TVA is losing its grip on some of the prisoners within its employ. It started with Hunter C-20 and the memories she recovered whilst under Sylvie’s enchantment. Of all the no-noes in the TVA, learning the whole thing is a ruse is the biggest one. So they killed her. Or pruned her. Or did something that made her disappear. Just as they did with Mobius. And with Loki.
More on that in a sec.
Either way, perhaps the TVA isn’t the greatest power in the universe after all. Perhaps Loki’s moment of self-clarity all the way back in episode one was actually describing the TVA itself: “It’s part of the illusion. It’s the cruel, elaborate trick conjured by the weak to inspire fear.”
Yeah. That’s probably it.
Even though it’s not supposed to happen, Loki and Sylvie triggered a nexus event within the vicinity of an apocalypse. How this happened, no one seems to know. But something about these two Variants together—their friendship or romance or something—caused a new timeline to split off, which was strong enough to notify the TVA of their presence on Lamentis-1, which is how they both wound up in the TVA’s custody again.
Personally, after all my talk last week likening these Lokis to long-lost siblings, I’m not a fan of the romantic innuendos between these two. So when Loki insisted, “She’s not my girlfriend!” I’m rooting for him to be honest about that. Otherwise we’ve got a weird Luke and Leia dynamic going on between these two.
Sylvie finally asked Renslayer the question that’s been eating her since childhood. “What was my nexus event? Why did you bring me in? It was enough to take my life from me. Must have been important. So, what was it?”
Renslayer smirked. “I don’t remember,” she said.
It’s like the time Thanos murdered Vision, then five years later, Wanda Maximoff was resurrected and bellowed, “You took everything from me!”
Remember Thanos’s reply? It’s a meme now: “I don’t even know who you are.”
Either way, in that moment, that’s the worst possible answer Sylvie could have heard. That’s what happens when you’ve been tormented and abused by a serial abuser. They not only wrecked your life. They don’t even remember doing it.
The end credits showed us that Loki’s pruning didn’t actually kill him. Instead, it sent him to a place that’s teeming with other Loki Variants, just like him. That may be a hint for why Sylvie was captured in the first place. Perhaps there’s something about Loki that’s inherently dangerous or threatening to the Time-Keepers, so they’ve “pruned” thousands of Lokis and dumped them all within this place. At the same time, maybe everyone who gets zapped by the TVA ends up in a similar space. I don’t think anyone reasonably believes that Marvel is finished with Owen Wilson’s Mobius, so it stands to reason that all the people who were disappeared by the TVA are still out there somewhere.
Lastly, the show isn’t being terribly consistent with all these nexus events. Two weeks ago, the TVA was in a tizzy over all the branches Sylvia had created. We were made to believe she had caused some world-shattering, unprecedented, uncontrollable event she had triggered.
But now? Eh, it was more or less handled off-screen. The Sacred Timeline is back in good order. Nothing to see here.
It’s Marvel, guys. My 12-year-old loves this show. Don’t overthink it.